OCEAN CITY — Despite a handful of serious incidents, the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) reported a nearly uneventful College Beach Weekend and thanked its allied partners, the resort business community and its residents for their assistance and vigilance during the unsanctioned event.
In June, the OCPD began issuing public warnings about the unsanctioned College Beach Weekend event’s planned return last weekend and spent the weeks leading up to the event carefully planning a proactive deployment and enforcement strategy to combat the potential problems. The strategy included enlisting the support of several allied law enforcement agencies to expand the police presence in known trouble areas including the Boardwalk and to send a clear message to event participants the same unruly behavior exhibited during the same event last July would not be tolerated.
The strategy appeared to work with an obvious strong police presence throughout the town, especially on the Boardwalk where OCPD officers and their allied partners were seen at every street end throughout the weekend. Anecdotally, the enhanced police presence was clearly on display in other areas throughout the town, particularly the downtown area, where marked and unmarked police vehicles and bicycle officers were seen throughout the weekend.
To be sure, the weekend was not without its serious incidents, as evidenced by a couple of strong-armed robberies late in the weekend and early this week, but OCPD officials this week reported the unsanctioned College Beach Weekend event, promoted from last Thursday through Sunday, was largely uneventful compared to the same event last year. The town and its police department were caught largely unaware last weekend by the event promoted through social media and the thousands of unruly college-age visitors it brought to the resort and the results were disastrous with near riots on the Boardwalk sending non-attendees scrambling for safety and resulting in some businesses closing down early.
This time around, however, the OCPD and its partners were out in front of the event with careful planning and enhanced enforcement strategy and the same mob-mentality witnessed during last year’s event never materialized. From last Thursday through Sunday, OCPD officers and their allied partners responded to over 3,000 calls for service, of which 81 percent were initiated by officers. According to the OCPD, that revealed citizens made few calls to police reporting concerns or witnessing crimes throughout the weekend.
“The visitors that came to Ocean City for College Beach Weekend were very respectful to the town and of our laws and ordinances,” said OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro.
There were hundreds of arrests made throughout the weekend for incidents major and minor, but there is no obvious nexus between the police reports and the College Beach Weekend event. In addition, there was no apparent spike in reports and some of the incidents were typical of a late July weekend regardless of the unsanctioned event in town.
OCPD Public Information Officer Lindsay Richard agreed with the chief’s assessment of the weekend, adding the key word “majority.”
“Overall, we experienced a very safe weekend with very few criminal incidents,” she said. “As expected, the vast majority of the visitors that came to Ocean City for this event were respectful of our town and our laws and ordinances.”
Buzzuro said the enhanced police presence throughout town, particularly on the Boardwalk, achieved the desired results, but said the vigilance of the business community and private citizens shared in the comparatively calm weekend. He said the relative success of the weekend could be attributed in large part to the business community and the property owners.
According to the OCPD, business owners were quick to address large crowds or unruly behavior on their properties, helping police stay ahead of potential issues. In addition, condominium owners that had large parties develop in some of their units also acted fast to evict problem tenants.
“We would not have seen such success this weekend without the help of the business community and property owners,” he said. “Many were able to address potential issues without police assistance, allowing our officers to concentrate on the Boardwalk and other public spaces in town.”
Richard agreed and said the business community and private citizens in many cases acted as extra eyes and ears for the OCPD and its allied partners throughout the weekend.
“There were a lot of police officers working, particularly on the Boardwalk, and we heard several compliments from citizens and business owners,” she said. “We’d like to thank the business community for their tremendous cooperation this weekend. The businesses helped us tremendously by addressing any large crowds in and around their businesses and contacting us with any relevant intelligence.”
Even before the event arrived as planned last weekend, a vigilant and aware business community was able to sniff out some potential ruses. OCPD officials said this week event promoters misled several businesses in an attempt to hold private parties for their attendees, all of which canceled the agreements when business owners discovered the events were being promoted at their properties. In addition, some event ticket holders were misled by College Beach Weekend promoters as many of the planned events did not have confirmed locations or never materialized at all.
Even before the event arrived last weekend, many resort business owners were doing their part by providing rooms and meals to the allied law enforcement officers who came to assist the OCPD. Coordinated through the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association, the effort to accommodate the allied officers throughout the weekend helped expand the police presence during the event.
“We’d also like to thank all of the restaurants and hotels that helped feed and house the Maryland State Police troopers that came to assist,” said Richard. “The success of the weekend truly was a community effort.”